Life’s Amphitheater – A Poem About Helping the Less Fortunate

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As I was driving down the road the other day and came to a stoplight, my eyes fell upon a young woman begging on the side of the road. I must admit that often times I am quick to judge out of pride or wonder why they are too lazy to pick themselves up and get a job or get help for their addiction. Often times I put the blame on their shoulders and often times it may be. But that woman’s image flooded my heart with sympathy – her head was hung low, and it was clear that she was ashamed of herself and her situation. I found myself wanting to write her story…and not just hers, but for all those struggling in the world without a voice.

It is easy to judge, but much harder to place ourselves in the shoes of another. We all have issues we wish to keep hidden in the safety of our hearts and minds. And what we often times attribute to our strength, our character, or our success has nothing to do with our actions, but only the grace of God.

What would your life look like without loving parents, a loving spouse, a warm and safe home; without teachers, mentors, and other positive influences? What would your life look like if you were abused as a child, afraid of going home after school, or knowing there wouldn’t be anyone there to ask you how your day was or help you with your homework? What would your life look like without someone to help you through college, without an employer who was willing to take a chance on a young intern, without a friend to pick you up all the times you fell? I don’t know, but I think it would do us all a little good to keep our judgments hushed and our hearts open to the stories of the less fortunate people around us.

Life’s Amphitheater – A Poem

Sing a song for the brokenhearted
Whose hopes were snatched away like a thief in the night;
For those who’ve been burnt by the flames of love,
Their hearts charred and scarred no longer with the will to fight.

Sing a song for the prince of pain
Whose sorrows cast shadows upon the skies.
Sing, sing for the once crowned king
Whose tears fall like rain from dismal eyes.

Sing a song for fairy tales lost.
Reality stings like salt on an open wound.
Yesterday’s hours were filled with childhood play.
Oh, how the years pass away much too soon.

Drum a dirge for the divorcee,
Who was ill-equipped to hear the secrets that fell upon their ears.
The soul shatters like sheet of glass
When reality reflects the realization of your deepest fears.

Drum a dirge for dying dreams
That have been abandoned for monetary pursuits.
To live a life never meant for our hearts
Is is pull up your essence and chop it off at the roots.

Drum a dirge for the desolate and deserted
Who hobble hopelessly, begging on downtown streets.
Do not be quick to judge a stranger
Until you pick up their bags and take a ride in their seat.

Belt out a ballad for the afflicted,
For the addicted, and for the anxious minds.
Have sympathy for the struggle you might not understand,
For we each carry a story we wish to leave behind.

Belt out a ballad for the sick and suffering;
Share their tale of sadness and woe.
A kind smile and gentle hand is often the only demand
To make somber faces delight and glow.

Belt out a ballad for the fatherless,
Familyless, and utterly alone
Whose story goes untold, lost
Sinking to the bottom of life’s ocean like a heavy stone.

Have pity on the less fortunate people
Whose notes resound throughout life’s amphitheater.
We are all apart of one beating force,
One united, cosmic voice; one rhyme, one rhythm, one meter.

-Poem and Content Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: Hard Times via photopin (license)

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Inspirational Poem About Helping Poor People, the Homeless, and Fighting World Hunger

Global Unity

Global Unity

As we go through our day to day lives, it is easy to think our way of life is normal – even expected and demanded. It is easy to think we have it harder than most people and to focus all of our attention on our needs, but our way of life is not the norm. The majority of the world deals with things on a daily basis that we can’t even begin to understand. Sometimes when I’m feeling selfish or even in a bad mood, changing my perspective and being grateful for what I have instead of lusting for more makes all the difference. That doesn’t mean that we should feel ashamed that we’ve been blessed, but that we become aware of the poverty, homelessness, and world hunger that is taking place around the world. It means changing our limited view and getting a change of perspective. Hope this poem inspires you. Thanks!

A Change of Perspective

As I wake on my soft, comfortable bed,
Another wakes to a stiff, sore back
From spending another night stretched out upon the ground.

As I get up and take my hot shower,
Another walks miles to gather putrid water
To soothe their dry, cracked lips.

As I pour my coffee and don’t think twice
About throwing my leftovers away,
Another searches desperately for table scraps
To keep their starving child alive one more day.

As I wander the darkness under the roof
Of my home and in the coziness of heat,
Another shivers unceasingly in the night
Without any cover from the elements.

As I drive to work and complain
When traffic keeps me from driving over fifty,
Another walks miles without shoes on their feet.

As I upgrade my big screen TV a few more inches,
Another must work like a dog for years
To earn the cost of my “necessity”.

As I gather to visit with my family,
Another visits theirs next to a tombstone
Because their wasn’t even money to treat
Their young child’s preventable disease.

As I worry about football scores,
Job promotions, and weekend plans,
Another worries about how they’ll find
Their next meal and stay alive.

As I contemplate holiday getaways
And vacation plans,
Another doesn’t know the meaning of the word.

As I walk free and don’t see the blessing
Of living in the United States,
Another lives as a slave, voice mute out of fear.

As I complain about my life and how bad I have it,
Another and 99% of the rest of the world
Deal with circumstances worse than mine.

Maybe it’s time
For a change of perspective.

 

– Poem Written By Justin Farley

Whom Shall I Send?

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.'” (Isaiah 6:8)

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Many times my selfishness wishes my ears were mute to the Lord’s whisper of “whom shall I send”. I have been searching for God my entire life and yet have never completely found him. I feel his presence, but he is not intimate. For many years I’ve wondered why he’s kept me in a middle ground with him. It almost feels better to be without God, than to have him near, but not intimate. It is like trying to be just “friends” with someone you are in love with. It causes more pain than anything.

When you live without God you can get away with turning your eyes from him and doing your own will. When you live in the middle ground, you get no comfort from sin and you’re convicted of it; at the same time, you have no one to run to in times of need. I’ve prayed for him to draw near, but found no relief. Why would God hide himself from me when I was reaching out to him? But over the past year I’ve realized that he wasn’t hiding from me, I was hiding from him. I wanted to go to God and have an intimate relationship with him without losing myself. I wanted all the benefits of his love, but I didn’t want to give him my love.

So I changed. I desperately sought out God and was willing to turn my life over to him. In the past year, I have seen drastic spiritual growth, but there is still something that is missing. I feel like I am now inside the city gates, maybe even inside his palace, but not yet intimate with him. I couldn’t understand it. I do the right things, have turned over the areas of my life I know needed changing, and spend time in the Word and prayer everyday.

But the other day I was thinking a lot about service and all the people in the world who are in desperate need. Out of the blue those dreaded words from Isaiah hit me like a ton of bricks: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Except my answer wasn’t nearly as noble as Isaiah’s. It was more like trying to hide, pretend that I didn’t hear them, or even answer “anyone but me”. I realized in that moment that I hadn’t turned everything over. There was still one area of my heart that I was guarding, and it was the reason I was still left wandering around the city and not in the throne room.

I’ve always wanted God, but I admittedly have a narcissistic personality. Not necessarily selfish, just an obsession with self. If someone asks for help I have no problem sacrificing to do so. But sometimes dwelling on myself blinds me from areas where I could be helping people who are not directly asking for it. From an early age, I knew my connection/desire to seek God was not normal. I remember really enjoying seeking God as a child and wanting to please him until I started reading stories about the lives of saints. God was always doing drastic things in their lives and having them do things they didn’t necessarily want to do. And that scared me to death.

I didn’t want someone to have complete control over me. I didn’t mind serving as long as it was on my terms, but what if God came to me and asked me to do the things that he had of the saints I’d read about? Well, from there on out I was determined to keep my distance from God. I didn’t want to turn completely away from him, but I didn’t want to be close enough to hear him either. If I stayed just outside his radar, maybe then I could get away with pleading ignorance. My greatest fear was that I was going to have a conviction to enter into Christian ministry (missionary, pastor, priest, monk, etc.) because that would mean my whole life would be centered around God. For selfish reasons, I never wanted my job to be focused on talking about God, primarily because I’m deathly afraid of public speaking.

But the other night when I heard the call, it dawned on me that I was still keeping that secret from God. It wasn’t as if I was now unwilling, but I had a grip so strong on that piece of me, that only by God appearing before me and demanding that I answer him would I say, “Here I am! Send me.” And it definitely would not have included the exclamation mark.

For all I know, God has no plans to use me in ministry. But then again, maybe he does. It doesn’t matter his plan, the point is my fear was trying to dictate the direction of my life. I thought that turning over 99% of my life over to God was good enough, but it isn’t. It takes surrendering 100% of your life to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Jesus does not tell us to pretty much die to self, but to die all the way. Anything that you keep hidden or off-limits to God puts a wall in your relationship. No secret is too dirty or wicked for God to deal with, but you have to present it to him. I think we have the tendency to pretend things will just go away if we don’t deal with them. In order to experience the intimacy of God, he has to experience your intimacy; it is not a one way street.

What question are you dreading God asking you or are covering your ears in response to? What desires and wants are you clutching onto while still seeking an intimate relationship with God? May we all have the courage to stop running around with our fingers stuck in our ears and boldly answer, “Here I am! Send me.”


 

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A New Commandment – Love One Another

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“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

A Radical Message

Over the past few days I’ve been reading the book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt and only have a few dozen pages to go. I’ve enjoyed the book, but frankly many pages I’ve read clinching my teeth and trying to keep myself from getting pissed off. You see, the main theme of the book is how Christians in the west have completely lost sight of the Gospel message and how our greed and self-seeking is keeping us from Christ. It is a book that really convicts you of areas of the Bible that you know are true but you hate. It’s a topic I’ve tried to explain away or forget about, not because it’s wrong, but because I know I’m guilty. I have wrestled with this for awhile and even wrote about it briefly in an earlier post Showing the Gospel – Love One Another”.

Are You Following the Real Jesus?

We like to believe that as long as we treat the people we know decent, go to church, and even read our Bible that we’re doing the will of God. We like to think because we’re not as bad as “those” people and that we try to be good that God is pleased with us. But is he really? In our culture, Jesus is depicted as a friendly, lovable guy that even non-Christians look to for moral teaching. But is he really? Yes and no. We tend to latch on to the friendly character who makes no demands on us and wants to fix all our problems, but what about Jesus the missionary? What about Jesus the leader who demands that you “follow” him regardless of what is keeping you back? What about the Jesus who interacts with the worst sinners, who dwells with the sick, the blind, the homeless, and lame? And what about Jesus who requires you to die to yourself? You’ve probably been spending a whole lot less time with that Jesus than the friendly, lovable one. I know I have.

But isn’t that what initially attracts us to Jesus? He is like no one we’ve ever seen or will ever see. We’re dazzled by his relentless humility and his relentless desire to heal the suffering. We love how Jesus puts the Pharisees in their place, attacking them for knowing the law but adding or taking away from it or using it to keep them from helping people. Hmm…sounds about like the overwhelming majority of Christians, myself included. It is entertaining to watch Jesus humble other people on paper, but when he plays upon our hearts, it’s not so funny anymore. Because to follow him, he is calling us to relentlessly abandon ourselves too. And that’s much easier said than done, especially in our society.

Following Christ vs Believing in Christ

Christianity is steadily declining in the west, but growing rapidly in the poorest parts of the world. The common assumption is that educated societies are ruling God out of the equation or using rational thought to explain away our need for him. But I don’t think that has much to do with it at all. For some, maybe. But the majority, no. The reason Christianity is dying out in the west is because it has turned into a philosophy that only exists in thought. Christianity was never meant to be something to think about. It is something you do! Following Christ means actually following him and doing the things that he did. It means reaching out to the poor, healing the sick, and helping the less fortunate. Jesus even says “by this” people will know who you are. Would a stranger be able to tell if I am a Christian by what I do?

Faith Without Works Is Dead

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)

Sounds an awful lot like the situation that America is in right now, doesn’t it? We try to defend attacks on Christianity from atheists and non-religious people with debates and evidence. But we’ll never win. When faced with two options on paper, are most going to choose option A, which says that you are your own God, that you can do whatever you feel good doing or option B, which says there is an authority over you, you must not do your own will, and you must sacrifice for the good of others? That’s not even a debate. Without God already in your life, human nature is going to pick option A every time unless option B is proven fact, which it never will be. The people that feel the need to tear down religion at all costs will never change their minds by a simple debate. Faith is not something that can be proved on paper. It can’t be or freewill would not exist. I’m not saying that the Gospel doesn’t have power on its own, but the majority of the time, the person hearing it has to be open to it for it to change them. But seeing the Gospel is a completely different story.

The Neglected Evidence

The strongest argument we have for Christianity is the one we’re neglecting the most. If we lived it out the way Jesus calls us to do, it would tip the scales in our favor. There is no other system of religion or non-religion that even comes close to giving people the power of love as Christianity does. Atheists may say they care about people, but they’ll never help people the way Christians can. If there is no God who humbled himself in human form, helped the less fortunate and who demands that we do the same, who is going to help the needy? Now there may be a few people who will, but not enough to ever make an impact. We like to believe that human beings naturally care and want to help others, but let’s stop dreaming. If this life is all there is, why in the world would people put themselves in danger or sacrifice their lives to help someone starving out in the world? They wouldn’t. That’s just human nature. And the majority of Eastern religions teach that this world is not real and the way to enlightenment is to be detached from it. That’s not going to do much for global suffering either. But Christianity says that each and every life matters and that we all have a responsibility to help those below us. Not only does the Gospel say that every life matters, but that every life should matter more than our own.

Imagine if every Christian in the world followed Jesus with the same force as the original disciples. Imagine if they were all desperately trying to end hunger, sickness, violence, and suffering. Imagine the revolutionary power that that kind of love has. Who could watch Christians without being moved by them? Who could watch without wrestling inside, wanting that kind of love? Who could see the relentless humility and not see the face of Jesus? Who could not wonder where this love is coming from? You see, that kind of love is what is going to win debates. That is what is going to open people’s hearts and move them to seek Jesus.

The Cost of Discipleship

Love is our greatest weapon against a world of nihilism, against a world of me-ism. Because without it, non-believers have many valid points. They call us hypocrites and judgmental and maybe that’s a title we’ve rightfully earned. Reading Radical this past week sure showed me I have a lot to think about in those areas. We would rather discuss theology, argue with other denominations, or judge other people than actually do what Jesus commands us. It’s a lot easier isn’t it? The Jesus that demands that we follow him is not one we love. If we’re really honest, it’s one we hate. Don’t we feel it’s a bit extreme when Jesus tells the rich man to give away all his possessions, warns that his followers will me forced to go to places without shelter, won’t let a son bury his father, or let someone say goodbye to their loved ones (Luke 9:57-62;18:18-30)? So we kind of shove those verses to the side and pretend we didn’t hear that or convince ourselves that Jesus didn’t really mean that. But if we’re recreating Jesus to fit our way of life, who is it that we are really serving? Ourselves. Jesus’ commandment is to love one another and that includes enemies and the less fortunate.  Imagine what the world would be like if more of us started actually following Jesus and stopped demanding he follow us.


 

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To Be Human

I once believed I was a wallflower,
A seed sown in an empty field,
Thinking thoughts and speaking in tongues
No one could understand,
A circus clown performing to a crowd of empty seats,
Alienated. Ostracized. Alone.
But the more I observe the human condition,
The more I see that no one is spared from its constraints.
The fact that among so many people we can feel so isolated,
So misunderstood, and believe we’re the only person
In the history of the world who feels this way,
Is the great paradox of our time.
But that’s what it means to be human.
You enter into this world alone
And you will leave it alone.
You spend the time in the middle trying to convince yourself
That we’re in this together – and we are
It just never feels that way.
We each deal with the human longing differently,
But we all know what it is.
The human experience – pain, suffering, being misunderstood, feeling lost.
And that’s the real mystery isn’t it?
Just how do we deal with the inevitable hardships of life?
You can find volumes full of answers,
But you’d struggle to find one that makes life any easier.
The important thing to realize is that there are others
Who have gone through the same trials you’re going through,
Feeling the exact same pain, and there are others
Who can look you in the eye and tell you, “I understand”
And mean it.
They may not be standing next to you,
But they’re out there struggling and searching just as hard as you.
When I used to look out into a crowd,
I’d see strangers, animals I neither related to nor understood.
But now I see brothers and sisters, all connected
Whether white, black, brown, red, yellow, man, woman, young, old, rich, poor.
We are all apart of the human race,
And that’s enough to reach out a helping hand.
Because everyone, whether publicly or privately, are engaged
In a battle within their hearts and minds
And need compassion and care.


 

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Showing the Gospel – Love One Another

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“He [Jesus] laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him…When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you”…”A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:4-5, 12-15, 34-35)

It is difficult to read this passages and not feel the power of the Gospel pouring out from them. Jesus’ moral teachings have not lasted 2000 years because he brought something new to the table, but because of the way he taught them. If it was only moral teachings that he came to teach us, his ministry would have been unnecessary – most of them were already contained within Judaism and share common characteristics with all major religions across the world – essentially saying be a “good” person and that’s enough. But Christ did not just teach the principles, he lived them. He lived them so perfectly that the people around him fell to their knees and called him Lord. The ones that didn’t knew there was something so strong, so pure within him that it threatened their identity, and they had to kill him.

Many have no problem calling Jesus a good man or agreeing with his teachings.  But when the idea of him being the Son of God gets tossed around, they think that the idea is crazy. Yes, it is a very difficult concept to accept – but what’s the alternative?  That a homeless, penniless man who taught for only three – yes, three years and claimed to be God, who didn’t conquer by force, but by living so beautifully that no one could deny his words, became the most powerful man the world has ever known? Now that is even crazier. But many times, especially in today’s world, it is not Christ who turns non-believers away from Christianity, but Christians.

The fact is that many bad things have been done over the ages in Christ’s name. For many people, mentioning Christianity produces thoughts of self-righteous people and hypocrites. People in today’s world have enough trouble trusting their own spouse, let alone an ancient book called the Bible. With the lack of trust in each other, is it any wonder that many people are turned off by talking about the Gospel?  That is not to say that there is not power in the Gospel, but simply telling it to many people in today’s world is not going to convert them. It was no different in the 1st century, and Jesus knew this better than anyone. He did not just go around teaching about love, about kindness, about patience, about humility, he lived it. Rarely, do the words of people convict us – it is the actions that go along with the words.

Besides the Crucifixion, nothing in the Gospel hits me harder than the washing of the disciples feet. Washing someone else’s feet doesn’t even seem appealing to us today, but in the 1st century, it would have been much worse. Everyone wore open-toed sandals and collected dust, sweat, bacteria, sand, and who-knows-what on their feet all throughout the day. It would be almost comparable in modern times of having to wipe someone else’s behind. Imagine the sores, corns, and calluses they must have had walking around on harsh terrain with only sandals on. Pretty appealing, right? But the Son of God humbled himself and washed his followers’ feet as an example, an act of love. It is in these acts of mercy and servitude that Jesus’ words shine so bright that we can’t ignore them. We become like Nathanael and cry out, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49) His life becomes so beautiful that we know this is not just a human being, but the Divine. If the Lord of the Universe humbled himself enough to wash the dirtiest parts of his followers’ bodies, what excuse do I have to not follow his example?

Jesus says that the world will know his followers by their love, but many times it seems all his followers are depicting is hate, judgement, and condemnation. That does not mean that all Christians are like that or that even the ones that are, are bad people. The point is, if we want to draw people to Christ, than we have to start acting like Christ. Whether we are aware of it or not, I believe people are going to look to our character first before they look to the Gospel. The Gospel is meant to change us. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be perfect, but we should be becoming more Christ-like. Who is going to want to listen to someone tell them about Jesus if they’re still the same old jerk they have always been? When people see the light of God we are shinning out in the world, their only response has to be one of curiosity and interest. They are going to want to know just what power is working in our life to create that change. Loving one another is not only a commandment, but it is the voice the Spirit uses to draw others to the Gospel.  May we follow Christ’s example, so that others will not be turned off by our behaviors, but become fixated on the true Light.


 

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A Change of Perspective

2858456847_27f8c83b58Recently, I’ve been reading a book called “He Walks Among Us – Encounters With Christ In A Broken World” by Richard and his wife Renee Stearns, who is the president of World Vision – a Christian humanitarian organization. In it, the couple shares stories of children and families they have encountered in their work, applying the stories to help teach principles the reader can use in their own life. It is tragic, and at the same time inspiring, to hear of the way less fortunate people live. Tragic because of the pain and suffering of people starving to death -children left to raise their siblings because their parents have died from sickness, and oppression from their rulers. But the humility and faith that many of these people have is astounding and inspiring.

When I’m caught up in my day to day affairs, I forget all the blessings I have – things like running water, food to eat, a car to drive, freedom, a warm place to stay.  These are all things that the majority of us in the west take for granted, but that a large percentage of people in rest of the world doesn’t have. In the book, Richard Stern claims that “two billion people in the world live in desperate poverty, and nearly twenty thousand children under the age of five needlessly die everyday.” It’s sickening to think that I complain over material desires – why I can’t have this, why I can’t have a bigger house, car, TV, etc., why other people have it so much easier than I do – when there’s small children across the world right now hoping to just get a drink of water and something to eat so they don’t die.

3646355921_cbb7ea41cbHow many times do I receive something and am actually grateful for it, instead of thinking that I deserve it? The gratitude and humility that the less fortunate have is something that we could all use. I do my best to always show appreciation and say “thank you”, but am I truly grateful? I may be showing outward gratitude, but am I humble at heart? If they decided to not give me what I wanted/needed, would my “gratitude” turn into demands and thinking I deserve it? The sick and suffering receive gifts with tears of joy and gratitude. When is the last time I’ve received a gift that way?

The smiles and unmovable faith in the face of so much suffering is something that is almost hard for us in the west to grasp. Here these people are struggling to survive day to day, and they are filled with an unshakable faith. They are finding ways to still find joy where most couldn’t find it. We have a tendency to doubt God if we don’t get the job we think we need, the partner that we know will complete us, or when things just simply don’t go the way we think they should. By observing our own lives, we believe we truly are worse off than anyone else and fall into self-pity. But when we change our perspective and see the real issues that the human race is facing, we are ashamed at the petty things we’re complaining about and our lack of gratitude for living with more blessings than the majority of the world.

The strangest thing is observing the character of these people and thinking they have something that’s missing in my life. The people that have less than anyone else in the world somehow have something that we envy, something that doesn’t quite make rational sense. Our brains can’t understand how people living in such poverty and sickness could be content. But that’s because we allow our own understanding to transcend the understanding of God. Jesus lives among the sick and suffering, the poor and the lame. Homeless himself, he had and left this world with nothing. He spent only three years in ministry, yet is the most powerful person to ever walk the planet. I don’t care if you’re a Christian or not, that’s got to raise some eyebrows and make yourself question “just who is this man”. A man that was homeless, penniless and only taught for three years became the face of the largest religion the world has ever known. That’s not rational either. And it’s not supposed to be. When we are humble and open our hearts to his love, miracles happen.

 


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Thinking About and Helping Others

My moods are like anyone else’s.  They come and go, sometimes without any real reason.  The past few days I’ve had a hard time accepting all that addiction and mental illness has taken from me.  Essentially all of my 20s have been spent battling addiction or anxiety.   I have a tenancy to catastrophize my situation by thinking I’m so much worse off than anyone else or that everyone else is so much happier than I am.  I tell myself, “If only I had this…if only I could change that.” But the reality is that happiness begins inside of you and is not dependent on outside circumstances.

The recent, tragic loss of Robin Williams only goes to show us that even many celebrities who “have it all” are still lonely and unhappy.  No matter how many times I tried telling myself to snap out of it and stop thinking negatively, nothing ever worked until today.  I was reading through Alcoholics Anonymous  and read a passage that I’ve probably read a hundred times, but for some reason it struck me today.  “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.”   That was the secret I needed.  I get the most anxious, the most agitated, and the most unhappy about my life when I stop thinking of others and only focus on me.  When I get obsessed with how I’m feeling, what my wants are, and what I deserve out of life, I can only go downhill from there.  It is nearly impossible to be grateful when you are only thinking about yourself.  As long as I depend on my myself for my satisfaction and happiness, I will constantly be left unfulfilled.  If I depend on material things or even people for my happiness, at any time my happiness can be taken away.  It is only when I depend on the consistent source of love from God that I can feel comfortable in my own skin and can reach out to others and help improve their lives.  This, the Big Book says, is our ultimate purpose and the only way that we will remain sober.

How much of my energy is focused on myself? 

How often am I thinking of others and helping them to meet their needs?